Imagine lighting a match in your apartment and accidentally dropping it. At first, it just leaves a little scorch mark in your carpet and you think that’s the end of it. But the dwindling fire comes in contact with some air and an accelerant, causing it to spread across your entire apartment, setting off fire alarms. Before you’ve had a chance to blink, much less call the fire department, your entire complex has gone up in flames and people are running into the streets to save their lives.
This is what politics has become in the United States during this election season. We are in middle of a raging fire fueled by anger, mistrust, and hate.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the most divisive candidates in election history. To make things worse, they are each relying on negative power plays to pit Americans against each other for the sake of poll numbers. These tactics are poisoning the country and setting a very dangerous precedent — politically, socially, and culturally — that will continue to contaminate long after the election is over.
Politically speaking, this country has been on the wrong foot since the invention of money. “Special interest” groups have been forcing the hand of government officials way before the Citizens United case.
Hillary has generated hundreds of millions of dollars from the likes of Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and Time Warner. She has also received money from foreign governments like Israel and Saudi Arabia, two of the biggest human rights violators in the Middle East. Ironically enough, also the biggest allies of the United States. ?
What most people don’t realize is that every dollar donated by these mega-corps and special interest groups turns into favors that she will owe at some point. It’s like incurring a small debt in a way. It’s those favors that she owes to big donors that will eventually supersede what she owes to voters who elect her. After all, what’s worth more, a million dollars or a couple thousand votes?
If corruption from the outside isn’t enough, Hillary has also been privy to corruption on the inside. This year, we all learned that the DNC (Democratic National Convention) can fix its primary and not even full media exposure can do anything about it.
When Bernie Sanders threw his hat into the ring to become the democratic presidential candidate, I’m sure Hillary and her buddies at the DNC could be heard giggling from miles away. But when tens of millions of people began absorbing Bernie’s message of unity and creating a new deal for America – the question arose as to whether special interest group money would be enough to clinch an election.
Despite the scandal being made very clear after the DNC hack, there was no formal apology for these corrupt and fixed primaries. The entire thing was rigged with super-delegates and involved making last minute changes to disenfranchise independents. The media also took part in the corruption by calling primary elections early to stymie Bernie voters from going to the polls and writing off Bernie as a fringe candidate.
All of this created havoc among tens of millions of swing voters who have become terribly jaded by this archaically inept political system.
And then you have Donald Trump, a self-proclaimed “outsider” who capitalizes on everything that is wrong with our society.
Fear and hate in this country are not new. In fact, those two elements are some of the foundations that built this nation. Fear of the natives led to genocide and robbing of their lands. Fear of slave revolts created some of the first militias that would eventually become some of the first police forces.
But seeing a prospective presidential candidate capitalize on fear and hate is quite possibly one of the most revolting and dangerous approaches to get votes. Trump has single-handedly created one of the most volatile and vitriolic atmospheres in this country — not seen since the Klu Klux Klan were a viable political party in the 20th century. And his instant claim to fame during the Republican primaries was his disdain for #Muslims.
There is a real racist and bigoted hate of Islam in this country. It is due mostly to purposeful ignorance, a government that only labels adverse acts by Muslims as terrorism, and an unrelenting media that only shows Muslims as evil, thereby, continually brainwashing the masses.
Big Evangelical followings have demonized Muslims for decades. Some have even gone as far as to label the entire faith the anti-Christ of which Jesus will come back to slay in the second-coming, even though Jesus is one of the most beloved prophets in Islam and is referred to throughout the Quran.
When Trump began to demonize Muslims, these people fell in love with him. Yea, he may be philandering, lustful, usurious, and untrustworthy (all very un-Evangelical qualities) – but he hates Muslims and isn’t that what matters most?
In fact, Trump’s bashing of Muslims was so effective that it eventually pushed others in the Republican party to do the same. But soon enough, Trump had to push the envelope further to pander to this fiery base of hate. He soon turned his sights onto other minorities in an effort to get ahead.
We are in a new era of social enlightenment. The issue of white privilege and systematic oppression are coming to the forefront, and although there are open-minded Americans who are admitting that this century-long vindication is a problem, the Trump crowd would rather attack anyone who brings it up with accusations of treachery and threats of banishment. They have even tried to water down social movements against systematic discrimination and oppression like #BlackLivesMatter with “All Lives Matter.”
Trump seized on this tactic when shootings of unarmed black men and boys around the country made headlines and especially when the Baltimore riot took place. Instead of calling for calm and looking to discuss the source of the tension, he vilified them by calling them thugs and insisting that they leave police officers no choice because of who they are and what they do. Back in July, he denounced BLM and even accused them of “igniting people” to kill police, starting a trend of hysteria that minorities are at war with police officers, even though police deaths while on duty are at their lowest point in a decade.
His attacks on Mexicans and immigrants seized the hearts of even more racists all over the country. Who can forget his first public statements about how Mexico is sending in drug dealers, criminals, and rapists and how Mexico is going to pay for that wall.
But just when you think that this man – if that’s what we want to call him – can’t stoop any lower, he actually continues to get worse. Trump mocked a disabled reporter – in public – during one of his speeches, causing a firestorm reaction from leading advocacy groups.
Trump has also offended women on numerous occasions – lucky for the ladies, he’s an equal opportunity offender. His most recent show of misogyny came about during a taped conversation with Billy Bush, captured almost a decade ago. He admitted to Billy that being rich and famous has its perks and he can do what he wants to women, even married ones. He admitted he sexually assaults women by grabbing their “pussies” (his word not ours) and kisses them without their consent. And then he tries to water it down by calling it “locker room talk.”
As someone who has been in a lot of testosterone-fueled locker rooms because of the many sports I have played, I have never heard someone bragging about sexual assault. Sexual assault is not a casual conversation amongst men. Nor should it ever be.
Not only is his rhetoric and attitude about this conversation dangerous for women, it should be terribly offensive to men everywhere that such talk could be correlated with us. Allowing Trump to easily brush this off will implicate us all into this theory of rape culture that we should be working to end.
And what is beyond insane is that his social media following actually swelled by a couple thousand the same day this 2005 interview was released, further proving the strength of the venom in his poison.
One of these two people will be chosen to represent our country for the next four years and each of them stands as a marker for what’s lacking in our nation.
Hillary, on one end, has brought to focus how rampant political corruption is in our government. She has shown time and time again that it is not a government for the people, but rather for special interest groups and the mega rich. She has also played into the cliché of well-connected politicians being above the law — no matter the circumstance.
Trump has given new life to racism and sexism with such a strength that has not been seen in decades. Attacks on Muslims and immigrants have risen dramatically since his sharpened tongue has hit the campaign trail. A radicalized white supremacist massacred 8 black people in a church and did it in order to start a race war, an idea conceptualized by white supremacist leaders who openly back Trump’s candidacy. Rocky Suhayda, chairman of the White Nationalist Movement, stated in August that Trump will be a “real opportunity” for white nationalists. Many news outlets have also reported on racist hate groups being in regular attendance at Trump rallies.
What these candidates do not realize is that the negativity and malignancy that they spew during their campaigns will not disappear once the election ends. It will last way beyond it and will most likely continue to fervor and reveal itself in more terrible ways. What is even more frustrating is how much of the public still abides by this broken two-party system and continues to blindly support these candidates.
This country is heading on a very dangerous path. These candidates are losing focus from the issues that affect all Americans and are instead centering around sensationalist soundbites to capitalize on national fear.
This country is heading on a very dangerous path.
The fire fueled by this entitlement of corruption, hate, racism, and misogyny must be stopped or it will only wreak more havoc on our society as a whole. We need solutions to put this fire out because there actually is a way to begin fixing this broken and divided nation.
Firstly, we need strong economic reforms that will build opportunity for wealth for everyone, not just the rich. Wealth is different from job growth. We don’t need more minimum wage jobs, but rather, ones where more people can earn more. More opportunity for wealth will reinvigorate the dying middle class and will give the population financial security, which will ease a lot of stress and tension.
The wealth gap in this country is going in the direction of a third world country and needs to be reversed in order to restrengthen the middle class. A strong middle class will circulate more money into the economy, spurring even more jobs and opportunity for promotion and wealth.
Secondly, the fear-mongering and sensationalism in politics and the media need to stop. The biased labels (terrorist, thug, illegal, etc.) on different ethnic groups and the “us versus them” mentality must stop. There must be a joint effort by politicians and the media to create an air of inclusiveness so that the most impressionable and volatile members of our society can calm their unnecessary fear, hostility, and hate of “others.”
This sinking ship can float again, but it is going to take uncorrupted, inclusive, and people-first politicians who will need to negotiate a new deal with the rich. The rich do not really have a choice. Widespread corruption, fear, anger, and hostility never bodes well for them, historically speaking.
So, this year can either be the beginning of the end or the end of the old and a new beginning. And its destiny will be left up to the ones who get elected in November.